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How does a robotic vacuum cleaner work

Robotic vacuum cleaners are no longer from the realm of science fiction. Thanks to cheap micro controllers and sensor technology, robotic vacuums are not only a possibility, but an affordable reality for busy home owners. In this article, we'll explain what makes these fantastic labour saving robots work and how they make use of today's technology to make for a home of the future.


A robotic automatic vacuum cleaner is made up from a compact vacuum mounted on a robot chassis. Some models can be fitted with squeegees for cleaning hard floors and laminates. The hardware consists of a pair of motors connected in an H-Bridge circuit. This method of control allows on the spot turning and tank style turning. A microprocessor co-ordinates the sensors and motors which allows the robot to navigate the room. Micro switch bump
The "eyes" of the robot are usually a combination of micro switch bump sensors that stop the machine when it touches an object and ultrasound sensors which help the robot to judge distances. Sensors
Modern robots are also fitted with infrared or photo cell sensors on the underside which prevents the unit from rolling off edges such as stairs and mezzanines. Batteries
Most devices will return to a docking station to charge and empty the dirt collected from a room. Batteries are commonly nickel metal hydride batteries, though higher capacity lithium polymer batteries are becoming more common.


The hardware is relatively simple compared to the control system of the machine. Some robot cleaning devices map out the room and learn where obstacles are via "robot lighthouse" devices and ultrasound mapping.
Other devices
Other simpler devices use a semi-random or spiral pattern. These devices make many passes over a floor surface meaning that some areas are cleaned only once, but others may be cleaned five or more times. Robot vacuum cleaning is somewhat slower than doing it manually due to the smaller motors and also due to the fact that the machines have to make multiple passes. This isn't usually seen as a disadvantage as robot vacuum cleaners are designed to work whilst its owners are working, meaning that time is not an issue.
These devices are improving all the time as advances in microprocessor technology allows complex mapping software to be operated on relatively cheap chips. Check the latest robotic vacuum cleaner reviews for the best recommendations from technology experts.

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